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I’m going to admit a major movie blasphemy; at least for a die-hard 80’s movie fan such as myself. Before this viewing, I’d never seen Footloose, the 80’s dance classic featuring Kevin Bacon in his star making role. Sure I’d seen pieces of it on cable over the years, enough that I felt like I’d seen the whole thing, but after watching it through, I realized that I didn’t completely know the magic of this film. There were actually some surprising developments, not so much story wise, that was all pretty predictable, more in the character development. Most notably in Reverend Shaw Moore, played by John Lithegow. I figured he’d be a one-note preacher, with nothing but contempt for everything that the kids stand for. But he actually shows a lot of compassion, and leads the town to make some good sensible decisions, mainly he's a hurting father.

It was these dramatic elements that made me enjoy Footloose for more than just a blast to the past. There’s actually a good moral center, which explores the line between right and wrong. Of course, nobody is watching this film for the dramatic tension; they want to see Kevin dance! And boy, does he. There are quite a few scenes of Kevin dancing his worries away, most famously, the angry dance in the deserted barn; that’s been spoofed recently by Hot Rod and Flight of the Conchords. He and his dance-doubles have some great moves and for the most part the 80’s soundtrack is top notch, which makes the film a lot of fun to watch.

I’m sure you all know the story about the big city teenager moving to a small Indiana town, where the law states that dancing is illegal. It’s fun to see Kevin rally his new friends to fight against these laws, originally set down by the reverend because his son died in a drunk driving accident after a school dance. But he’s losing his daughter to these strict rules, she’s a wild one at heart, and delights in rebelling against his laws. The funniest scene in the film, is when she brings a boom-box to the local hang out, and somehow everyone in the joint is able to hear it and starts dancing along. It was great to see a very young Chris Penn play Kevin’s best friend, and in another great guilty pleasure of a scene, Kevin teaches him how to dance.

Footloose is undeniably fun. If you’re not a fan of 80’s movies, than this film definitely isn’t for you, as it’s brimming with everything that made the decade so memorable. I was surprised by how well the dramatic elements worked in the film, and I guess that’s why it remains such a staple, the dancing alone wouldn’t be enough. Go watch Breakin’, if you want an empty bubble-gum film full of out-dated dancing scenes. Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow, Chris Penn and Dianne Wiest, who played a mom in every other 80’s movie, lend the film some gravitas and sell the slightly ludicrous idea of a dance-free town. Footloose is a must see for any fan of the 80’s, but you probably already know that. – Grade: B+ (Seen on 6/17/08)

3 Responses to Footloose:

  1. Shoot, I'm 31 and still don't think I've seen more than a minute of Footloose, though I can't say that I feel bad or that I'm missing out on anything. I didn't even realize Lithgow was in it...might be worth catching just for him.

  1. Footloose has heart, but little else... predictable with bad dancing! but you gotta love the way they put the Puritans in their place, after all, this is the land of freedom, right? or is it a land where the majority can outlaw whatever they want in the name of democracy??
    something to think about...
    ps - This film is obviously blasphemous liberal propaganda!!

  1. Gotta love FOOTLOOSE. Predictable as hell, but full of cheesy and nostalgic 80s goodness. The soundtrack is better than the film itself I think but it doesn't take away the fact that FOOTLOOSE is a classic.